Barbara Lee and Blood Lust

Barbara LeeIn general, I don’t do politicians for the birthday post, but Barbara Lee is 68 today. I lived in Richmond, California for a long time, so although she was never my representative, I was right on the border of her district, and just across the bay for other times. So I’ve been familiar with her from the start. But then this is mostly true for the rest of America. Just in her second term as a Representative, she was the only person to vote against the ridiculously broad Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF).

I remember 9/11 really well. I remember how blood thirsty people were. There is, of course, a direct line not just between 9/11 and the AUMF and Afghanistan, but also Iraq. It took most people years to get over the need to attack anyone who was convenient, because we had been attacked. And that included Barbara Lee, who actually received death threats. That was in addition to causing her Capital Hill phone line to be overloaded with hateful calls. It didn’t matter that her vote had nothing to do with Afghanistan, but was a principled stand about a ridiculously broad law. It was unacceptable not to vote for any bill that was belligerent; to do so was un-American!

On the day of 9/11, when I considered myself a libertarian, I still managed to write:

This is a tragedy on a large scale. What bothers me is that this is only the tip of the iceberg—the real tragedy has yet to come and I am not talking about the death count from New York.

The real tragedy will come with the response by the United States.

Earlier today, the Golden Gate Bridge was closed. For those of you who don’t know, that is a bridge in San Francisco. San Francisco is not an island. What good is closing the bridge? Are we thinking, “We may not be able to stop terrorists, but by God! We can inconvenience them!”

We in the US have a strong tendency to respond inappropriately to any tragedy. Because of the uni-bomber, all packages over one pound in weight must be taken to a post office. Does this make anyone safer? No. We respond inappropriately to tragedy.

What I am expecting from this is a wave of new laws that demolish the civil rights of Americans at the same time that [they] don’t make Americans any safer. Ben Franklin said something to the effect, “Those who would trade liberty for security deserve neither.”[1] Now we trade liberty for nothing at all.

Of course, I don’t always agree with Lee. But she is a good solid liberal. And she represents her district better than say, Nancy Pelosi (who I have nothing against) just across the bay.

Happy birthday Barbara Lee!


[1] The actual quote is, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

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